One of the most popular main courses for Easter is, of course, ham. Ham is not as easy to match as you might think, although the mix of sweet and salt brings some great possibilities. For the white drinker, Riesling is an excellent choice. Get one with just a touch of sweetness, which rounds out the saltiness and has the good acidity to support the sweetness and fruit of the wine. My choice from Washington is Kung Fu Girl. From Germany, go with a Kabinett, like Dr. Loosen Blue Slate ($20.99.) Another white to try is Joseph Cattin Gewurztraminer from Alsace. Big fruit, spice, and a bit of residual sugar work very well with the ham.
For the red drinker, a big fruit-forward wine works well, such as a California Zinfandel. Seven Deadly Zins or Dashe are good examples. Even better would be a Nero D’Avola or Negroamaro form southern Italy. These are similar to Zinfandels only a little lighter on the alcohol, a little earthier, and a little more elegant. Occhipinti’s TAMI Nero D’Avola is awesome at $18.99 and N Zero is a $12.99 Negroamaro that will make your ham wonderful.
If you are lucky enough to live in a house where your wife doesn’t think lambs are too cute to cook, then nothing is better for Easter dinner. As far as I’m concerned, the perfect match for lamb is a red from the northern Rhone. These earthy Syrahs bring out the gamey rich flavor of the lamb like nothing else can. J.L. Chave is one of the Rhone’s great producers, and his Croze-Hermitage Silene ($27.99) or his St. Joseph Offerus ($29.99) will guarantee a return invitation to dinner. For less money, a southern Cotes du Rhone blend such as Chateau Pesquie Terrasses ($15.99) will do fine. If you don’t want French, a nice Spanish Rioja like Zuazo Gaston ($14.99) or a big Nebbiolo such as Dominico Clerico’s Capisme-E
($37.99) are excellent choices.
A marbled prime rib literally screams out for a big tannic wine like a California mountain Cabernet. Staglin’s 2007 Salus at $89.00 is epic, but Mt Veeder ($35.99) and Educated Guess ($20.99) are both very nice. Even better is Aglianico, a tannic, rustic monster from southern Italy. San Martino’s SIIR at $19.99 is a true bargain. Taurasi is the world’s greatest expression of this grape. If you brought a bottle of Mastroberardino Radici 2006 ($63.99) to my house, you’d get a lifetime invitation to dinner anytime you want. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy your prime rib properly. 1907 Madiran from southwestern France (home of the Tannat grape) is a wonderful accompaniment for a whopping $12.99.
Last but not least, Easter Brunch. If you are looking forward to those mimosas, Spanish Cavas and Proseccos are great bang for your buck and they have big exuberant bubbles that will stand up to your O.J. Sonim is a great Cava for $13.99 and Le Colture Sylvoz at $12.99 is my favorite Prosecco for the job. Don’t bring a nice Champagne from France. The very fine bubbles will flatten in about ten seconds if you add O.J., peach nectar, or Kirsch…very unimpressive indeed.
These are by no means your only choices, especially if you’re having a different or unique food for Easter. And for dessert? You may have to consider a nice Port for all that chocolate.
Above all, though you may not eat responsibly, please drink that way. Happy Easter!